Welcome back to Milk Mondays…
Where we get to show off our lovely lot and share a little bit of their wisdom, what makes them tick and what they get up to when they’re not making VFX:)
This week we’re shining the spotlight on our Head of 3D Neil Roche. We caught up with him (and Rocket the slightly bonkers cockapoo) last week over a cappucino from Alex coffee (Neil’s fav)…
How long have you been working at milk?
Since we opened in 2013.
What do you like about working here?
The people…. and the projects! Everyone’s super collaborative and always willing to go the extra mile to make our work look great!
Did you always want to be a 3D/ rigging artist (and then Head of 3D)?
I always wanted to be a 2D animator, so after university I was looking for more traditional 2D animation roles. But I ended up doing some work experience for a small 3D studio and then got a job as a runner for a Soho post-production house; so I thought this would be a great opportunity to get into animation, albeit 3D.
How did you get into 3D/rigging?
After getting a job as a runner in Soho I started to learn Maya after my shifts and then I ended up being asked to animate a commercial in Lightwave and that was my way in. I joined a larger facility to animate on feature films and while there I got the chance to start rigging a few characters as I’d always been interested in character setups. Then I joined The Mill’s TV department as a rigger and animator, and gradually became more specialised in rigging, eventually becoming their Head of Rigging.
What do you like about it?
My passion has always been photoreal creatures, I love the detail that’s needed to make a CG creature so lifelike. I really enjoy the study of anatomy and muscles and how they work in order to make creatures look realistic.
What does your typical day look like?
Reviews, dailies, meetings and interviews and checking in with my team. It’s a hybrid mix for me at the moment between the studio and home.
What’s been your fave project at milk? Why?
Creating a quirky CG creature that was the main character (The Psammead) in the film 4 Kids and It (and voiced by Michael Caine, no less)!
And a special mention to the bloodthirsty wolves from episode 1 of Cursed, we had a cracking team and whilst the work was really challenging, the end result looked amazing (and helped bag a BAFTA Craft nomination for the project). We’ve got some really cool creatures coming up too (no spoilers!!)
Top ingredients for creating amazing work?
What do you love about working in VFX?
The variety! Every project has its own unique creative challenges which need to be solved and the variety of work always keeps us on our toes. After all these years it is still good fun!
Top tip/advice to your younger self (when starting out in the industry)
Always be willing to learn more from the artists around you. Be pragmatic and listen to others when trying to solve problems.
It’s all about hard work and self-belief in this industry; take every opportunity and make the most of it.
What’s the secret of your success?
I think I’m quite easy to get along with (at least I hope so!) and happy to help anyone out.
Your top tip for being a good team leader.
Be a good listener and have a good sense of humour.
What do you like doing when you’re not rigging/being head of 3D?
I love cooking, it’s a good way to wind down after work. I make a mean risotto!
What’s one thing you always keep on your desk?
Anatomy books – there’s always something more to learn about how creatures and humans move!
A recent addition to my family is a cockapoo, Rocket: he has a LOT of energy and sometimes interrupts meetings, cheeky boy! When I’m working remotely, I have a picture of a horse on the wall that has become a regular feature on our calls – he’s like a pet to me now too!
Last present you bought yourself?
A cardigan – showing my age now!
What would your superpower be?
Slowing down time!
Tea or coffee? one sugar or two?
Mine’s a cappuccino from Alex Coffee – no sugar needed!
Thank you Neil 🙂
PS. We do love Neil’s rather fabulous picture of the horse that hangs behind his workspace when he’s at home (seen in every zoom call he’s on)